Lessons In Bullet Journaling And Mental Health


I’ve recently (read: one week ago) started a bullet journal. I’m not going to get all into what bullet journaling (or #bujo as the cool Instagram kids call it) is or why to do it, because it’s easy enough to find out on your own. Spend like, two minutes on Pinterest and you’ll find out.

I’m always making lists–on notebooks at work, on my phone, sending myself email reminders, etc. A bullet journal felt like a great way for me to consolidate all my anal retentiveness organizational skills. So I went online to look for tips on how to get started.

Hours later, lost in a Pinterest spiral, I came across the idea of habit tracking. Specifically, this beautiful spread by someone named Clara:


I mean, how gorgeous is that?

Me: Oh, how cool! I can write down all my good and bad habits and see how I behave on a holistic level! I can track patterns and make notes on where I need to improve or refocus! I can really set clear goals and influence personal growth!

So, I started a habit tracker for January. I wanted to keep track of my wellness goals, like exercise and meditation, but I also wanted to get an idea over time of how much TV I watch, how often I drink alcohol, stuff like that. I added some good and bad habits. Things I am trying to do every day, like meditate and drink a certain amount of water, and also things I am trying to avoid, like spending money frivolously or ordering takeout.

Fast forward about three days.

Me: Oh man, I suck at life. I didn’t drink enough water yesterday or today. I’m probably going to gain a ton of weight now and get ten million wrinkles. Why am I such a failure? I’ll have to do better!

Two days later

Me: Jeez, I am just exhausted today. I don’t have the energy to exercise. I think I’ll take a day off…but ugh, now I can’t check it off in my bullet journal. That empty square is staring at me, taunting me, reminding me how bad I am at life. SHUT UP, EMPTY SQUARE.


Me: Oh no, I slept in late and now I don’t have time to do everything on my habit tracker. I’ll never catch up! Today is already a complete disaster! How could I be such a fucking mess of a human being? Why do I even try? WHYYYY


I made some modifications to my habit tracker:


The lesson here? Maybe I am not cut out for habit tracking.

In all seriousness, though, I am proud of myself for recognizing unhealthy behavior and making a change. Habit tracking is clearly not something I can do without becoming obsessive. I immediately put too much pressure on myself and, instead of being a positive influence, it was impacting me negatively every day.

If habit tracking works for you? Awesome! It seems like a super cool idea, if you can make it work. But for me, habit tracking basically taught me that I should just let myself be.

What bullet journal techniques work for you, or don’t work at all? Do you use a habit tracker?


8 thoughts

  1. I belly laughed at your habit tracker “modifications”. I’m gonna see mine through because I like the concept, but I have found that it has the total opposite effect on me, meaning I couldn’t care less if I check that box off at the end of the day 😦


    1. I think it’s the best decision I’ve made so far with my bullet journaling, LOL. It’s funny how it can motivate some people into crazytown (me) and have very different effects on others. Keep trying and let me know how it goes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LOL, same. I tried it for about a week before realizing that I am just never going to update it daily, and then I’ll feel like a stupid failure for not remembering to update my habit tracker–let alone actually doing all of the things listed on it. It’s cool looking and I can see where it would help a lot of people, but I’m just not one of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for the honest post here. I love staring at the beautiful habit trackers and bullet journal pages. Then I start one, forget about it for a week, and spiral for an hour about my failures as a human on this earth. Lesson: This kind of journaling may not be for all of us. Loved your post.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s